I heard rumours in Paris last week about a major luxury group taking a significant stake in Azzedine Alaïa's business, after he bought his business back from Prada this summer. Today's WWD confirms the mystery conglomerate as Richemont, a company known more for luxury watches and jewellery than high fashion.
Azzedine Alaïa is the ultimate fashion insider brand, loved by legions of devoted fans of his signature 80's body-con dresses that have come into fashion's favour again of late. Alaïa's intricate and complex garment construction and personal touch are vestiges of a different era in fashion, and for this he is respected by even the most jaded fashion types.
Recently, Mr Alaïa has become better known to the mainstream for his vertiginous high heel shoes, which are packaged in signature leather boxes and have been produced through a partnership with the Prada Group. According to terms of the buyback deal this summer, Prada will continue to work with Mr. Alaïa production of this rapidly growing segment of the business.
As for Richemont, which also owns the explosively growing house of Chloé, the chances of repeating that success with Mr Alaia seem limited. At present, the Alaïa business turns over 13m euros and is housed in Mr. Alaïa's small but exquisite headquarters in the Marais district of Paris. In the past, Mr. Alaia has been known for stubbornly sticking to his own agenda and I suspect he won't be going back on this philosophy now.
Perhaps this was a way for Richemont to gain some serious fashion credibility while it contemplates further investments in the high fashion space?